Tag Archives: erin elizabeth smith

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Allie Marini’s Before Fire: Divorce Poems

allie and george


Streuselküchen, Prasselküchen, Butterküchen

Some say, lying is done with words & silence,
but it is also done with küchen, streusel
something scattered or sprinkled:
flour, cinnamon, butter, sugar, crème, nut meats, cherries, fat—
all the makings of happy marriages or happier funerals.

Simple cakes, these—though the baker knows better.
Yeast & milk, the freud-und-leid, mixed together to form dough,
which though silky to the touch, takes heft & might to make smooth.
In the kitchen, the baker kneads by hand, flipping & punching
until every knot turns soft & velvet.
Leave it still, heart-warmed, until it doubles.

Zuckerküchen assumes nothing.
Flat cakes for oblong unions, lopsided loves & slivered luck.
Most of the time, it’s more crumb than cake;
though sometimes—a puff pastry or short crust foundation,
a dough formed from shortening, more pie than küchen
it’s up to the baker to decide: Sweet is sweet.

Years ago, a Silesian baker tied her apron strings,
pulling rolled pastries & butter-sugar tartlets,
veined & studded with pockets of cinnamon,
out of the warmth of her oven—to get to a husband’s heart,
travel a path from his tongue, & when he wrongs you,
invent Käseküchen; soft cheese will mask the salt.
Emboss it with cherries. Show him how sweet it is to sit at your table.

When he strays & comes back to you, celebrate the ripe fruit of reconciliation,
a bit sharp, sour-sweet as the reddest of strawberries in your famous Erdbeerküchen.
Lace it with an edge of whipped cream—
forget the way the crust crumbles under the tines of your dessert fork.

Later, use a flat pan for a simple confection:
Baumküchen, whose layers are the rings of a tree,
gone from acorn to oak in the oven—
mature & ripe, its filling pinwheels vanilla, nutmeg-glazed apple slices,
the pinch of occasional jealousies & the remaining scars of old fights,
strident as an unexpected spike of ginger or cinnamon—
softened by a flutter of cardamom &
a skillful piping of sweet white icing on the top.

What’s left, in the kitchen,
after the husbands have been wedded, forgiven & buried,
after the kids have moved out &
the guests have come & gone:
just crumbs, & the memory of desserts not always sweet.
Beerdigungsküchen; the baker grieves.

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This selection comes from Allie Marini Batts’ collection Before Fire: Divorce Poems, available now from ELJ Publications!  Purchase your copy here!

Allie Marini holds degrees from Antioch University of Los Angeles & New College of Florida, meaning she can explain deconstructionism, but cannot perform simple math. Her work has been a finalist for Best of the Net & nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is managing editor for the NonBinary Review, Unbound Octavo, & Zoetic Press, and co-edits for Lucky Bastard Press with her man, performance poet B Deep. She has previously served on the masthead for Lunch Ticket, Spry Literary Journal, The Weekenders Magazine, Mojave River Review & Press, & The Bookshelf Bombshells. Allie is the author of  Unmade & Other Poems (Beautysleep Press), You Might Curse Before You Bless (ELJ Publications) wingless, scorched & beautiful (Imaginary Friend Press), Before Fire (ELJ Publications), This Is How We End (Bitterzoet), Pictures From The Center Of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, winner of the Vella Prize), Cliffdiving (Nomadic Press), And When She Tasted of Knowledge (Nomadic Press), Southern Cryptozoology: A Field Guide To Beasts Of The Southern Wild (Hyacinth Girl Press), Here Comes Hell {dancing girl press}, & Heart Radicals, a collaborative collection with Les Kay, Janeen Pergrin Rastall & Sandra Marchetti (ELJ Publications).  Allie rarely sleeps, and her mother has hypothesized that she is actually a robot fueled by Diet Coke & Sri Racha. She met George R.R. Martin & did not die. Proof of immortality? Not sure, but it does make a compelling argument…Find her on the web: https://www.facebook.com/AllieMariniBatts or @kiddeternity.

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake, 2011) and The Fear of Being Found, which will be re-released from Zoetic Press later this year. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee. She serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and The Wardrobe.

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Sundress Seeking Submissions of Political Poetry for New Anthology

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In September 2014, NPR writer and critic Juan Vidal wrote an essay whose titular question, “Where Have All the Poets Gone?” provided a platform for various musings regarding the political state of contemporary American poetics. According to Vidal, “For centuries, poets were the mouthpieces railing loudly against injustice. They gave voice to the hardships and evils facing people everywhere… What has happened?” He further suggested that poets writing today have failed to create work that carries the same “weight” as the poems written by their literary forefathers.

Should American poets still be trying to write “Howl”? Are Neruda, Kerouac, Baraka, and the rest of the Beat Generation the only viable prototypes for political literary expression in American culture? How does the influx of identities, voices, and life experiences that are now expressed in mainstream American letters potentially create and communicate new political vision(s) — vision that may sound or appear different from Ginsberg’s poetic/political tour de force, but is no less necessary, compelling, challenging, or iconoclastic? What do we even mean when we talk about the weight of a political work? How is that weight both carried and expressed by poetry today?

To address these questions, Sundress Publications is now accepting poetry submissions for a new anthology on the politics of identity, to showcase the substantial amount of political writing that is being done today. This print anthology, edited by Fox Frazier-Foley, Mary Stone, and Erin Elizabeth Smith, will include multimedia features: we are open to submissions in audio/visual media (e.g., video files of ASL poetry, audio files of spoken word poetry, etc).

This anthology is looking for submissions that contemplate ideas about race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, socioeconomic status, educational background, different life experiences, etc. and how our identities shape and complicate how we see ourselves in the world.

To submit, please send 3-5 poems and a bio (no longer than 75 words) to anthology@sundresspublications.com. Previously published work will be considered. If you send previously published work, please note where it first appeared.

Submissions for this project are rolling.
Deadline: December 31, 2014, at 12:00 midnight PST.

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Torsos and TaTas, This First Friday!

 

Torsos and Tatas
Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to announce that they are one of the sponsors for Paulk+Co’s “Torsos and TaTas” First Friday event. The event, which is also sponsored by Mighty Mud, Downtown Wine and Spirits and Gage Talent will take place on First Friday, November 7, 2014 between 6PM and 10PM at Paulk+Co’s located at 510 Williams Street, Downtown Knoxville, TN 37917.

A portion of all sales during the evening will be donated to BreastStrokes, an organization which provides financial support to female cancer patients through the creation of empowering art featuring the painted busts of women whose lives, in one way or another, have been affected by cancer.

In a unique mix of fashion, spoken word, and art, “Torsos and TaTas” will feature the spectacular Raku ceramic torsos created by John McRae, a Professor of Architecture at UT, and musical guest Cindi Alpert & the Corduroy Jazz Trio;

Gage Models wearing custom Couture Corsets created just for this event by special guest Royal Peasantry, from Asheville, NC, will circulate through the gallery, as SAFTA poets Erin Elizabeth Smith, Luci Brown, and Lyric Dunagan present “Pop-Up Poetry” throughout the evening.

The community is cordially invited to join us in this unique celebration of the female form benefiting Breaststrokes. Free, covered parking is available in City Parking, adjacent to Paulk+Co. In addition to being an artist studio specializing in Concrete, Stone and Metal Fabrications, Paulk+Co is a gallery that showcases local and regional artists (Find them online at Paulk+Co.com).

Additional participant information can be found at:

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Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents Writing & Cooking The South: A Workshop

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KNOXVILLE, TN – Sundress Academy for the Arts, a branch of Sundress Publications, will be hosting an event devoted to Writing and Cooking the South, which will take place on Saturday, May 31, 2014 from 1:00PM – 7:00PM. A multi-genre workshop, the event will focus on the elements of what is considered “Southern” writing. Participants will discover how to incorporate elements of Southern mythos and history into their own storytelling. The workshop will be followed by a cooking demo that includes a number of traditional dishes from various regions of the American South. Participants will then enjoy a three-course dinner where they can sample the prepared recipes. The cost for this day-long workshop is $75.00.


Novice and advanced cooks and writers are welcome. The event is an opportunity for writers to integrate the rich mythologies and histories of the American South into their work and share a meal of traditional and re-imagined food. Participants will have the chance to learn from experienced and talented writers, including Dr. Erin Elizabeth Smith and Dr. Rhonda Lott.

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press, 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She earned her PhD in Creative Writing at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi and teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee. She also serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

Rhonda Lott, an alumna of the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, recently earned her doctorate in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry from Texas Tech University. She has worked with Sundress Publications since 2008 as both an editor and artist-in-residence with contributions of poetry broadsides and book covers. Her writing has appeared internationally and locally in a variety of venues, including Hayden’s Ferry Review, cream city review, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as the Knoxville Film Festival 7-Day Shootout.

Space is limited, so reserve your spot today! The only requirements are a laptop and an appetite!

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Leah Browning’s “Early Morning”

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EARLY MORNING

The woman emerged from the forest
behind the house, as if she’d become lost

in an intricate dream, or a fairy tale:
as if she’d been wandering in the wood

for so long that her hair had turned gray
and her clothes were worn to rags.

It was one of those cool, gray mornings
where the mist clings to the treetops,

and one of the stories in the newspaper
was about a mysterious shower of apples

falling from the sky over a small British town,
and any otherworldly thing seemed possible.

I was sitting on the back porch with a cup
of hot coffee in my hand, steam rising

in the cold air, and I watched as if in a dream
as the woman slowly grew closer.

Her hair, fine as cobwebs, was pulled up
in a knot at the back of her head,

and the pale fabric of her nightgown
dragged behind her in the thick grass.

I set my cup on the table and rose.
It would take only a moment

to walk down the wooden steps
and cross the grass to meet her,

to stand close enough to see her face,
deeply lined, still soft from sleep.

I already knew that she would
mistakenly call me by her daughter’s name,

and I would take her inside for a blanket
and a cup of hot tea, and together,

we would sit near a bowl full of roses
and look through the phone book

for the familiar number
that she could no longer recall.

But for as long as I walked down
the wooden steps and crossed the thick grass

she was still wandering out of the forest,
in search of elusive words of advice or a magic ring,

or the single kiss that would turn back time
and break the spell.

 

This selection is from Leah Browning’s chapbook, In the Chair Museum, available from dancing girl pressPurchase your copy here!

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens and three chapbooks.  Her most recent chapbook, In the Chair Museum, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2013.  Browning’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have previously appeared in publications including Queen’s Quarterly, Queen’s Feminist Review, 42opus, The Saint Ann’s Review, Blood Orange Review, 300 Days of Sun, Corium Magazine, Heron Tree, The Citron Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, and Per Contra, as well as on a broadside from Broadsided Press, on postcards from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, and in several anthologies.  Her fourth chapbook, Out of Body, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press.  In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.  Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.

 

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

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THE WARDROBE’S BEST DRESSED: LEAH BROWNING’S “ALMOST A YEAR AFTER HIS SUICIDE”

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Almost a Year After His Suicide
 
After a glass of wine, it no longer seems possible
that he’s dead. You weren’t close, toward the end
of his life, and it’s been months since he has floated
into your thoughts, unbidden, out of the blue. 

Now, sitting on the back porch,
you can remember every line
of his last letter. He had sounded at peace
then, just a few short weeks before. 

The wisteria is in bloom, with its thick,
fragrant bunches of lavender flowers,
and the lemon tree is heavy with fruit.
At sunset, the dead seem close by, 

present, lingering in your peripheral vision.
And for a moment, in the golden light,
this has to be heaven, because how could anyone
truly be dead, here amidst so much beauty?

 

This selection is from Leah Browning’s chapbook, In the Chair Museum, available from dancing girl pressPurchase your copy here!

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press) and three chapbooks: In the Chair Museum (Dancing Girl 2013),  Picking Cherries in the Española Valley (Dancing Girl Press, 2010) and Making Love to the Same Man for Fifteen Years (Big Table Publishing, 2009).  Browning’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have previously appeared in a variety of publications, including Queen’s Quarterly, Queen’s Feminist Review, 42opus, The Saint Ann’s Review, Blood Orange Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Brink Magazine, Halfway Down the Stairs, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Per Contra, as well as on a broadside from Broadsided Press, on postcards from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, and in several anthologies.  In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.  Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.

 

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Leah Browning’s “Halfway Through the Biography of Anne Sexton”

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HALFWAY THROUGH THE BIOGRAPHY OF ANNE SEXTON

Things begin to fall apart. The kids are sick,
the car’s engine won’t turn over, all the light bulbs are breaking.
My fingers swell in the night. It’s the salt, the sugar, the heat—
but it seems symptomatic of some larger failing.

Autumn. It’s been raining for days and days, and she’s back
in the hospital again—is it the third time, the fourth?
I can’t help thinking of the skirts she used to wear, the position
of her hand on the banister, all the secret codes and signs.

The old life—the two of them holding hands on the porch,
children running on the summer grass—
did it all melt like ice under the smoldering weight
of the words in her head? Or did it ever exist at all?

Outside, the rain falls heavily, like sparrows
striking the roof. Her body is so slight, so fragile—
and yet we are all silent, standing here in the dark, waiting
once more for even a hint of breath, or a soft rush of wings. 

 

This selection is from Leah Browning’s chapbook, In the Chair Museum, available from dancing girl pressPurchase your copy here!

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press) and three chapbooks: In the Chair Museum (Dancing Girl 2013),  Picking Cherries in the Española Valley (Dancing Girl Press, 2010) and Making Love to the Same Man for Fifteen Years (Big Table Publishing, 2009).  Browning’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have previously appeared in a variety of publications, including Queen’s Quarterly, Queen’s Feminist Review, 42opus, The Saint Ann’s Review, Blood Orange Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Brink Magazine, Halfway Down the Stairs, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Per Contra, as well as on a broadside from Broadsided Press, on postcards from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, and in several anthologies.  In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.  Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.

 

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Leah Browning’s “In the Chair Museum”

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IN THE CHAIR MUSEUM

On Christmas Day, we drove north
to spend the afternoon with friends.

I was homesick for New Mexico
and brought biscochitos in the shape of stars.

We all walked to Montara State Beach
where it was cold and windy and beautiful

and watched the sun set like a piece of golden glass
over the ocean. I couldn’t believe it was truly

December. On the way back to the house
I held his little mitten in my gloved hand.

He was getting older and it felt like the last time
this might happen, like I needed to remember it.

We took the longest route and stopped to look
at strings of Christmas lights in the front yards.

By the time we returned, the men had built
a fire in a metal bowl on the back porch.

Later, after dinner, I looked through a book
with one of the boys, a very thick book about chairs.

He sat close to me on the couch and I wanted time
to stop for a moment so we could go on forever

turning page after page of glossy color photographs
of all the different colors and types of chairs.

Christmas ended, and New Year’s. The book dissolved,
all of it did, as though it had never happened.

A few months later, I dreamed that I was a doll,
walking on my little legs through the chair museum.

Next door was the table museum, and on the other side
of it was the spoon museum, and so on. You get the idea.

The chairs in my museum were very large,
and I felt so small as I walked between them.

I wasn’t sure why I was there, or what I was supposed to be
learning, but I knew that I had to be there for a reason.

So all night, I walked around in my little stockings and
my little black felt slippers with the straps across the tops.

All night, I walked around and around the museum,
peeking up at chairs through my little glass eyes,

certain that all of the answers were right there in front of me
if only I knew where to look.

 

This selection is from Leah Browning’s chapbook, In the Chair Museum, available from dancing girl pressPurchase your copy here!

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press) and three chapbooks: In the Chair Museum (Dancing Girl 2013),  Picking Cherries in the Española Valley (Dancing Girl Press, 2010) and Making Love to the Same Man for Fifteen Years (Big Table Publishing, 2009).  Browning’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have previously appeared in a variety of publications, including Queen’s Quarterly, Queen’s Feminist Review, 42opus, The Saint Ann’s Review, Blood Orange Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Brink Magazine, Halfway Down the Stairs, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Per Contra, as well as on a broadside from Broadsided Press, on postcards from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, and in several anthologies.  In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.  Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.

 

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Leah Browning’s “The Night He Broke His Collarbone”

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THE NIGHT HE BROKE HIS COLLARBONE

The diaper commercials never show
all the waiting:

the outer room at the dentist or
the living room when he’s out late or

at his bedside, in the emergency room,
waiting to take the X-rays or hear the results.

Or now, standing outside in the driveway
in the dark, waiting for the ambulance.

My son is sitting in the front
passenger seat of my car,

trying not to move too much
or cry or throw up, and

I stand in the wedge of light
from the car’s open door.

Earlier tonight, when the sun was still low,
he hit a bump on the BMX track

and slammed into the ground
shoulder-first. He is not quite thirteen.

His friend had to borrow a cell phone
to call his father and ask him to drive over

and pick them up in his SUV.
At the time, it didn’t seem so serious.

The neighbors have come outside,
one already in her nightdress and robe,

wringing her hands. There is nothing left
to say. Mostly, it is quiet. Other cars drive past,

and at the end of the street, a city bus stops
to collect its passengers before grinding away again.

One night, on a school trip, there was an accident—
but it was twenty years ago and all I remember now

is filing off a bus in the dark, and seeing
a teenage boy laid out on his back

in a parking lot, in some unfamiliar state—
in another lifetime, it seems now.

But it is all called back by the faint sound of the siren
rising from the bottom of the hill,

eliciting a familiar sense of relief. The ambulance
pulls to a stop in front of us, and the back doors are opened

to reveal its inner workings: the raised white cot,
the long gray bench, a series of cupboards, and then

the confident, efficient machine of the paramedics
emerging with their clipboards and backboard

and gloves and stethoscope,
and the pair of silver scissors they’ll use

to cut his shirt off his body, deftly,
like magicians performing a deceptively complex trick,

and in that moment I almost expect to see rising smoke
and a flurry of milk-white doves

as they set aside the glittering mirror of the scissors
and whisk back the colored cloth.

 

“The Night He Broke His Collarbone” is from Leah Browning’s chapbook, In the Chair Museum, available from dancing girl pressPurchase your copy here!

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press) and three chapbooks: In the Chair Museum (Dancing Girl 2013),  Picking Cherries in the Española Valley (Dancing Girl Press, 2010) and Making Love to the Same Man for Fifteen Years (Big Table Publishing, 2009).  Browning’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have previously appeared in a variety of publications, including Queen’s Quarterly, Queen’s Feminist Review, 42opus, The Saint Ann’s Review, Blood Orange Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Brink Magazine, Halfway Down the Stairs, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Per Contra, as well as on a broadside from Broadsided Press, on postcards from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, and in several anthologies.  In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.  Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.

 

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

 

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#TheBlogTour #MyWritingProcess Erin Elizabeth Smith

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Today is my day on #TheBlogTour where writers and artists answer questions and their processes. Thanks to Sally Deskins for tagging me for this week!

Each writer answers the same four questions each week and then links to three more writers who will submit their answers next week with the hashtag #MyWritingProcess.

MY BIO

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

I’m an currently cleaning up a finished manuscript that deals with both Alice in Wonderland and my divorce–the poems were an awakening of sorts after not writing for several months after the initial separation. I was broken (emotionally, mentally) but also deeply angry and, in some ways, embarassed. I didn’t know how to put those emotions on to paper until I was teaching Alice in a literature course at the University of Tennessee, thinking about adaptation and what stays the same between each iteration. It was then that I realized what I loved about Alice wasn’t the strange world that she found herself in, but rather that she had no goals, no demons to vanquish, no score to settle. She just moved forward because that’s what you do. That’s how you get from one place to another.

The poems came slowly, and as I healed from the separation, they began to change, to open up to other places, to bring in new characters, to look at my past and my present all in a linear line that made no sense. Everything was through the looking glass, the same but only backwards.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

This question feels like I’m supposed to answer something elitist, like “My work is unique in the entire world of poetry because”…and I’ll be honest, it isn’t. Poetry doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Writing this collection, I read back issues of The Fairytale Review, the Alice issue of Gargoyle, the poems of Stephanie Bolster, the short stories of Angela Carter, and then I watched about twenty different variants of Alice. I read Carroll’s notes. I read Alice Lidell’s letters. I read the first draft of Alice (Alice Underground) with Carroll’s own illustrations. I read biographies. I read critical essays. I was inspired by friends, by pop music, by YouTube videos, by OKCupid ads. Everything.

My work isn’t different from others; it’s inspired by others.

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

I think I write what I do in large part as a way for me to frame my own female experience in this world. There is something about the density of poetry that I really like, the way one image can echo, reverberate through an entire book of poems, through the entire way that we look at the world. I write poetry because there is an imperative to see the world through metaphor, through the knotting of one thought to another, a daisy chain of conversation that exists outside of time or response.

I like how in poetry you can say a thousand different things depending on what flower you reference, what shade of sky, what song rumbles on your radio. How these small choices are what draw empathy and strength.

HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

I write at my computer. Partially because I feel that I can’t write without Google or Wikipedia anymore. When I resort to pen and paper, I come back to the words that I love too much–“break,” “red,” “bone,” “history,” “forsythia.” When I’m at the computer, I can find out what the state bird of Tennessee is—a mockingbird—or the type of grass that grows most commonly in Georgia—tall fescue. Words that never would have come to me are served up on silver e-platter of language. When working on my current book, I also always had a print and digital copy of Alice at the ready, so that I could peruse my own notes and well and do word searches to tie images directly to scenes in the novel.

When I am stuck, I open my favorite poetry volumes and read first lines. I’ll find the things I dogeared in periods of my life where I felt the same and re-read whole collections. We always tell our students that in order to write well, you must read well. I think this is true in my process too—how can you even begin writing without reading? And how can you continue it—poem by poem—without even more?

NEXT WEEK

Here are the three writers who will post their contributions to #TheBlogTour next week:

Letitia Trent‘s first novel, Echo Lake, will be published by Dark House Press/Curbside Splendor in 2014. Trent poetry and prose have appeared in the Denver Quarterly, The Black Warrior Review, Fence, Folio, The Journal, Mipoesias, Ootoliths, Blazevox, and many others. Her first full-length poetry collection, One Perfect Bird, is available from Sundress Publications. Her chapbooks include You aren’t in this movie (dancing girl press), Splice (Blue Hour Press) and The Medical Diaries (Scantily Clad Press). She was the 2010 winner of the Alumni Flash Writing Award from the Ohio State University’s the Journal and has been awarded fellowships from The Vermont Studio Center and the MacDowell Colony. Trent is currently book review editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection and a frequent contributor to Bright Wall/Dark Room and The Nervous Breakdown.

A writer and visual artist, Kristy Bowen is the author of several books, chapbooks, and zines, including girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2014), the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013), in the bird museum (Dusie Press, 2008) and the fever almanac (Ghost Road, 2006). She lives in Chicago, where under the guise of dancing girl press & studio, she curates an annual series of chapbooks by women authors, edits the online lit zine, wicked alice, and creates a variety of paper based arts & crafts. Her poetry chapbook, I*HATE*YOU*JAMES*FRANCO, was released in 2012 by Sundress Publications, and her full-length collection, major characters in minor films, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

Lisa M. Cole is the author of the poetry collections Heart Full of Tinders and Dreams of the Living, and is a contributor to Wood Becomes Bone: A Mental Health Awareness Series, all three titles forthcoming from ELJ publications. Lisa has also written six chapbooks; most recently Negotiating with Objects from Sundress Publications; The Bodyscape from dancing girl press, & the forthcoming Living in a Lonely House also from dancing girl press. She was a recipient of the Lois Nelson Award in Creative Non-Fiction in 2005, & was a runner-up in SLAB’s Elizabeth R. Curry poetry contest earlier this year. When not writing, Lisa teaches writing workshops in Tucson Arizona’s prisons as well as in various places within Tucson’s vibrant literary communities, including the University of Arizona Poetry Center, & Casa Libre En La Solona. You can read book reviews of her fellow poets’ work at her blog & find her on Facebook in both personal & professional capacities

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